The American Petroleum Institute (API), is the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry and is a 501(c)(6). An organization designated as a 501 (c)(6) are not profit associations which help advance their industry or geographic area. Members may include individuals and corporations[i].
API is a powerful lobbying, spending an average of $6-7 million per year. It also funds groups such as Americas for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)[ii].
The API has become adept at spinning off front groups and cloning them to create the illusion of wide and diverse public support.
An example of the use of “clones” is API’s America’s Energy Forum. It states “America’s Energy Forum is a non-partisan community of concerned citizens committed to two goals – achieving energy security for our country, and holding our elected officials more accountable in shaping energy policies.[iii]”
Note the use of the words “community of concerned citizens” to promote the appearance of grassroots activity at a national level. The Energy Forum also spreads out to 22 individual states[iv] with nearly identical websites covering the same issues with the same talking points.
Other API front groups and websites include Energy Citizens; We are Energy Nation and Energy Tomorrow.
In the spirit of flag waving, API via America’s Energy Forum created yet another group of front groups were created in 2013 and goes by the name Vets4Energy[v]. Per API press release dated July 10, 2013[vi]:
The Vets4Energy campaign is a non-partisan coalition of citizens committed to achieving energy security and holding elected officials accountable in shaping energy policies.
Vets4Energy began by primarily focusing on the Keystone XL Pipeline issue and acted as a Spokesgroup for API and TransCanada. Later Vets4Energy have increased activities to include all fossil fuel activities.
The Vets4Energy website footer states “Site sponsored by America’s Energy Forum ….“ and is identical to the legalese verbiage on all of America’s Energy Forum websites. As with America’s Energy Forum’s structure, Vets4Energy also has state front groups.
Vets4Energy is not listed as a non-profit by the IRS, meaning it’s not required to file public tax forms and thus difficult to follow the money.
Retired Rear Adm. Don Loren, Liason and Advisor for Vets4Energy, described his group as a grassroots organization of veterans who have volunteered to share their point of view that energy policy and national security are inexorably linked.
However, Loren also acknowledged that his group gets funding from the American Petroleum Institute, but said it represents an independent voice from veterans who believe in the issue[vii].
© 2015 by Dory Hippauf
[i] What Is a 501 C (6) Organization? | Chron http://smallbusiness.chron.com/501-c-6-organization-60734.html
[ii] American Petroleum Institute | Center for Media Democracy – SourceWatch | http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/American_Petroleum_Institute#Oil_Sands_Fact_Check
[iii] American’s Energy Forum | http://www.americasenergyforum.com/about-us/
[iv] American’s Energy Forum | In the States http://www.americasenergyforum.com/in-the-states/
[v] API: Vets4Energy promote energy and national security on Capitol Hill | http://www.api.org/news-and-media/news/newsitems/2013/july-2013/api-vets4energy-promote-energy-and-national-security-on-capitol-hill
[vi] API: Vets4Energy promote energy and national security on Capitol Hill | http://www.api.org/news-and-media/news/newsitems/2013/july-2013/api-vets4energy-promote-energy-and-national-security-on-capitol-hill
[vii] Lee Terry, Keystone XL supporters again push for pipeline’s approval | By Joseph Morton, World-Herald Bureau | http://m.omaha.com/news/lee-terry-keystone-xl-supporters-again-push-for-pipeline-s/article_5448da4e-b8bf-53c2-9963-95f8faac9762.html?mode=jqm